Collection of articles analyzing politics, political philosophy, and popular culture. Published in Historia Nova: Duke Undergraduate Review, Yale Review of International Studies, Yale Daily News WEEKEND, The Yale Politic, and College Cultured

Christopher Nolan's Haunted Humanism

Interstellar is often read as a direct expression of Christopher Nolan’s theology of exclusive humanism, which always locates the transcendent in the immanent. Perhaps Brett McCracken summarized this interpretation of Nolan’s “secular faith” best when he argued that the director’s films evoke a sense of “immanent wonder” that “feels religious in nature but is explainable within the laws of physics or the horizons of human endeavor.” This is Nolan’s key filmic magic trick...

ELBENNI: Identifying Islam

On Oct. 16, 1989, the News finally published an article on Muslims rather than Islam. Here’s how it begins: “When Eman Qawiyy ’92 unfolded her prayer rug, students asked her if it flew.” This article has been rewritten many times since — in 1994, “Religious students face conflict in life at Yale,” in 2005, “For Allah, for Country, for Yale,” and in 2016, “The Divide,” by yours truly. These latter renditions are more sophisticated in their analysis, but the underlying narrative structure is the same...

Between Pan-Islamism and Indian Nationalism: The Khilafat, Humanism, and Abul Kalam Azad

Few figures in Indian history have presented an interpretive conundrum so acutely as has Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1886-1958), a Muslim scholar who spent his first adult years as a journalist and his last as Minister of Education. His complex and apparently contradictory philosophical and political stances — running the gamut from radical pan-Islamism to Muslim communalism to secular Indian nationalism — have frustrated attempts to identify him with any particular school of thought.1 The struggle to render him intelligible has produced numerous competing theories as to the ultimate meaning of his legacy.

Shaping Saddam: How the Media Mythologized A Monster — Honorable Mention

This essay first appeared in the Acheson Prize 2018 Issue of the Yale Review of International Studies. "Hussein’s meteoric rise in the American consciousness from generic Middle-Eastern dictator to omnipotent threat was enabled and fueled by the intersection of three critical factors: the idiosyncratic biases (and failures) of the American press, government propaganda, and the intoxicating specter of war."

The Good Muslim: When Positive Portrayals Prevail

In spite of the American desert that is positive Muslim representation, a small handful of oases have appeared in the years since The Lion of the Desert. Those appearances, though transient and forgotten, were enough to demonstrate that Hollywood’s regurgitation of trite Muslim narratives is not just damaging because it further marginalizes Islamic media representation, but perplexing because it leaves a deep well of narrative potential untapped.

Should the United States Implement Democracy in the Muslim World?

In attempting to forcibly impose liberal democracy on Muslim-majority societies, the U.S. is doing more than simply instituting an alternate mode of governance; it is attempting the wholesale transformation of an entire culture’s social and political consciousness. Successfully implementing liberal democracy abroad would require the U.S. military to not merely topple rulers, but to also enforce a revolution in societal values—a process that could span decades, if not centuries. The unworkability and undesirability of such a scenario is evident in its potentially crippling financial costs and troubling imperialistic overtones.

Spiderman: Homecoming

Spider-Man has had a tumultuous decade, to say the least. Following the controversial 2007 release of director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 and a troubled development process for the fourth film, Sony Pictures rebooted the franchise with Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. However, backstage controversy and the lukewarm reception to Amazing Spider-Man 2 led Sony to cancel the reboot and finally agree to allow Marvel Studios to include the character in its films. Originally a Marvel Comics ch

Get Out of Your Fantasy

Confronted with this stranger’s betrayal, Chris can only ask, broken, the question that haunts every scene of the film: “Why black people?” Hudson’s chilling response, that he doesn’t care about the race of the victim, only the vitality of the eyes, exposes the devastating hollowness of his racial acceptance. Hudson’s rejection of racism in principle is rendered meaningless by his willingness to not only accept the existence of a racially oppressive system, but to in fact profit from it. His (literal) colorblindness does not free him from complicity in the exploitation of black bodies for white benefit, it implicates him. In other words, Hudson’s indifference to race is itself racist.